The German government condemned what it said were ‘unacceptable’ violations of coronavirus restrictions in Germany after protesters took to the streets of Berlin over the weekend.
Tens of thousands of people – many with no masks – took to the streets to protest Germany’s coronavirus restrictions on Saturday in a demonstration that insisted ‘the end of the pandemic’ has arrived.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said: ‘The images we saw this weekend were unacceptable.’
She added that protesters who failed to wear masks or respect social distancing rules had ‘exploited their right to demonstrate’ and were ‘in no way justified’.
The protests came as authorities voice increasing concerns about an uptick in new infections despite the coronavirus restrictions in Germany.
A dense crowd marched through downtown Berlin from the Brandenburg Gate ahead of a rally on a wide boulevard that runs through the city’s Tiergarten park.
Protesters who came from across the country held up homemade signs with slogans like ‘Corona, false alarm,’ ‘We are being forced to wear a muzzle,’ ‘Natural defense instead of vaccination’ and ‘We are the second wave.’
They chanted, ‘We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom!’
Police used bullhorns to chide participants to adhere to social distancing rules and to wear masks, apparently with little success.
They tweeted that they were preparing a criminal complaint against the rally’s organizers for failing to enforce hygiene rules.
Police estimated that about 17,000 people turned up to the march, and demonstrators were kept apart from counter protesters, some chanting ‘Nazis out!’